Belief in fake news is associated with delusionality, dogmatism, religious fundamentalism, and reduced analytic thinking


Delusion-prone individuals may be more likely to accept even delusion-irrelevant implausible ideas because of their tendency to engage in less analytic and less actively open-minded thinking. Consistent with this suggestion, two online studies with over 900 participants demonstrated that although delusion-prone individuals were no more likely to believe true news headlines, they displayed an increased belief in “fake news” headlines, which often feature implausible content. Mediation analyses suggest that analytic cognitive style may partially explain these individuals’ increased willingness to believe fake news. Exploratory analyses showed that dogmatic individuals and religious fundamentalists were also more likely to believe false (but not true) news, and that these relationships may be fully explained by analytic cognitive style. Our findings suggest that existing interventions that increase analytic and actively open-minded thinking might be leveraged to help reduce belief in fake news.

Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 8, 108–117